How accessible is my visualization? Evaluating visualization accessibility with Chartability

Picture of Cynthia Bennett
Cynthia Bennett
Published at EuroVis | Rome, Italy 2022
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Novices and experts have struggled to evaluate the accessibility of data visualizations because there are no common shared guidelines across environments, platforms, and contexts in which data visualizations are authored. Between non-specific standards bodies like WCAG, emerging research, and guidelines from specific communities of practice, it is hard to organize knowledge on how to evaluate accessible data visualizations. We present Chartability, a set of heuristics synthesized from these various sources which enables designers, developers, researchers, and auditors to evaluate data-driven visualizations and interfaces for visual, motor, vestibular, neurological, and cognitive accessibility. In this paper, we outline our process of making a set of heuristics and accessibility principles for Chartability and highlight key features in the auditing process. Working with participants on real projects, we found that data practitioners with a novice level of accessibility skills were more confident and found auditing to be easier after using Chartability. Expert accessibility practitioners were eager to integrate Chartability into their own work. Reflecting on Chartability’s development and the preliminary user evaluation, we discuss tradeoffs of open projects, working with high-risk evaluations like auditing projects in the wild, and challenge future research projects at the intersection of visualization and accessibility to consider the broad intersections of disabilities.